RD556 - Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Annual Report on Activities Related to Suicide Prevention – December 1, 2018

Executive Summary:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that suicide is a serious public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities. Suicide, by definition, is fatal. Suicide also affects the health of others and the community. When people die by suicide, their family and friends often experience shock, anger, guilt, and depression. Many people are impacted by knowing someone who dies or by personally experiencing suicidal thoughts. Additionally, being a survivor or someone with lived experience increases one’s risk of suicide.

A report, released by CDC on June 7, 2018, showed that rates of death by suicide in the United States have risen by roughly 25 percent in the last couple decades. Suicide rates increased in almost every state from 1999-2016.(*1) While its causes are complex and determined by multiple factors, the goal of suicide prevention is to reduce factors that increase risk (i.e. risk factors) and increase factors that promote resilience (i.e. protective factors). Ideally, prevention addresses all levels of influence: individual, relationship, community, and societal. Effective prevention strategies are needed to promote awareness of suicide and encourage a commitment to social change.

A comprehensive evidence-based public health approach to prevent suicide risk before it occurs, identify and support persons at risk, prevent reattempts, and help friends and family members in the aftermath of a suicide is needed. This report provides an overview of the Department's activities related to suicide prevention across the lifespan.

As we move forward, our goal is to continue to address suicide prevention across the lifespan on a statewide level and in congruence with our state plan, “Suicide Prevention across the Lifespan Plan for the Commonwealth of Virginia". A combination of interventions at several levels will be required in order to implement an effective, comprehensive program. We look forward to continuing our work with stakeholders to strengthening capacity and efforts to ensure suicide-safer communities across Virginia.
(*1) Stone DM, Simon TR, Fowler KA, et al. Vital Signs: Trends in State Suicide Rates — United States, 1999–2016 and Circumstances Contributing to Suicide — 27 States, 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:617–624.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6722a1.